2 More
5 More

(i) Rosso Gilera 60 1232(ii) Beige Sabbia 583

(i) Rosso Gilera 60 1232
(ii) Beige Sabbia 583
(i)(ii) industrial varnish and cork on card
(i)(ii) 27 ¾ x 27 ¾in. (70.5 x 70.5cm.)
(i)(ii) Executed in 1967
Sperone Westwater, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2001.
Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today, exh. cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2008, p. 37, fig. 5 (illustrated in colour).
J-C. Ammann, Alighiero Boetti catalogo generale, vol. I, Milan 2009, p. 313, nos. 118 and 119 (illustrated in colour, p. 163).
Turin, Galleria Sperone, Disegni progetti, 1969 (Rosso Gilera 60 1232 exhibited).
New York, Sperone Westwater, Paper Works, 1997.
New York, Sperone Westwater, Alighiero e Boetti: "Untitled" - Victoria Boogie Woogie (1972) and selected early works, 2001.
Further Details
(i) This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under no. 1777 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
(ii) This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under no. 1778 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Created in 1967—the year of the artist’s very first solo exhibition at Galleria Christian Stein in Turin—Beige Sabbia 583 and Rosso Gilera 60 1232 belong to Alighiero Boetti’s seminal early series of Vernici industriali (Industrial Paints). Each consists of a square board affixed with cork letters, which spell out the name and code of the industrial automobile paint with which it has been coated. Rather than sites of spiritual or formal purity, these monochromes are boldly self-referential readymades. In line with the ethos of ‘Arte Povera’, or ‘poor art’—a term coined by critic Germano Celant in the same year he made his debut—Boetti made critical and playful use of everyday materials in his early practice. His hometown of Turin was in its industrial heyday, home to Fiat’s headquarters and a hotbed of car culture. In the Vernici industriali, with his use of automotive pigments from local hardware stores, Boetti suggested that even colour itself—the locus of centuries of artistic passion in Italy—had become subsumed into a world of consumerist experience and brand identity.

Rosso Gilera 60 1232 is painted in the trademark red of the popular motorcycle company Gilera. Boetti also made a diptych displaying this colour alongside the subtly different red of its racing competitor, Guzzi. He played on the rivalry between the two brands, which divided many Italians into Guzzisti and Gileristi according to their allegiance. Beige Sabbia 583, meanwhile, was a ‘sandy beige’ paint colour available to Fiat buyers between 1963 and 1968. There was a rich palette to choose from. One 1967 chart offers six different shades of red for your Fiat: if you wanted a neutral tone, you might consider not only sandy beige but also Avorio chiaro (light ivory), Avorio antico (old ivory) or two different kinds of white. Other colours Boetti used had romantic names such as Oro Longchamp, Argento Auteuil or Bleu Cannes, conjuring up far-flung locations and glamorous racecourses. Advertisers, car-makers and artists alike were attuned to the aspirational and imaginational power of colour.

Boetti used an array of commonplace and pre-fabricated materials to make the works for his inaugural show at Galleria Christian Stein, including Perspex, PVC tubing, electrical wire and military camouflage fabric. Each was linked to the factory production of newly industrialised northern Italy. The show also featured a group of painted monochromes that would lead to the Vernici industriali later that year. They shared the present works’ format of cork letters on board, displaying phonetic exercises—the thin thumb, stiff upper lip, frou frou—from a phrasebook used by Boetti’s wife while she was teaching English. In the Vernici industriali, Boetti condensed the free-floating lyricism of this idea to incorporate the name of the paint itself into one succinct, self-reflexive statement, showing how words and colour alike were bound up in the modern allure of the commodity.

Unbeknownst to both artists, Boetti was making his Vernici industriali at almost the exact same time Gerhard Richter made his first ‘colour-chart’ paintings in West Germany. Like Boetti, Richter was engaged in a Pop-adjacent exploration of colours as consumer goods. Where Richter’s interest in commercial colour samplers was largely compositional, however—the colours were arranged in arbitrary grids, without any apparent regard for aesthetic effect—Boetti’s presentation of the individual colours, marked with their brand-names, foregrounded them as cultural objects of their time. Having made some of the defining contributions to the movement, Boetti largely abandoned the tactics of Arte Povera by 1969, expanding his practice in more conceptual, networked and mystical directions. His ingenious use of colour and words in the Vernici industriali, however, would remain central to many of his later series, from his vibrant text-based tapestries to the alphabetic games in his biro works. Reflecting the everyday surfaces of industrial Turin back at itself, they also establish his artistic philosophy of mettere al mondo il mondo: ‘bringing the world into the world.’

More from 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale

View All
View All